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Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleón’ has few fans in France: ‘A very anti-French film’

A Brit telling the story of the French Cesar. A tale that begins with a mistake (Napoleon Bonaparte attending the beheading of Marie Antoinette, which didn’t happen) and ending with an unfurling of the number of the deaths he left in his wake across Europe (subtext: he was a forerunner of Hitler and Stalin). Even worse: the Empereur and the rest of the protagonists speak in English. What could go wrong?

Ridley Scott’s film, which debuts this week, has touched a nerve in France. There aren’t many world leaders whose tombs are located in the center of a nation’s capital: Lenin, Mao… and Napoleon, whose remains rest in the Les Invalides monument. It’s impossible to understand this country without the man who embodied the last real moment of French power in the world, and who laid the groundwork for its modern state.

“I’m a stalwart Ridley Scott fan,” historian Jean Tulard said on Tuesday evening. Apart from being a fan of the director of Blade Runner, Alien and Gladiator, Tulard is also one of Napoleon, or at least, he is one of his most distinguished scholars and a biographer of note. Tulard was speaking at a colloquium organized by the magazine Le Figaro Histoire at L’Arlequin, a Parisian movie theater where the audience had just attended a preview of Napoleon. The historian said, “I am speaking to you as a film buff.”

It was an important distinction. Because, following that statement, Tulard and the other historians participating in the colloquium proceeded to dismantle — elegantly, but relentlessly — the film we had just seen. Some of the assessments heard on the L’Arlequin stage: “It hides the political landscape”; “I was disappointed by the setting”, “during the battle of Austerlitz, you can’t understand a thing”; “it is an incomplete Napoleon”; “at times, monolithic”.

Tulard, who at nearly 90 years of age boasts a bibliography of dozens of books on Napoleon Bonaparte, came clean at the end of the talk when he was asked if the new film was a good entry point for a person who is unfamiliar with Napoleon. His answer: “I admire Ridley Scott, but as a Sorbonne history professor, I would advise against seeing this film.” Applause rang out amid the aisles. “As a film buff, yes,” he summed up. “As a historian, no!”

Joaquin Phoenix, in a scene from 'Napoleon'.
Joaquin Phoenix, in a scene from ‘Napoleon’. KEVIN BAKER

As with any fictional recreation — from the Puy du Fou theme park to the best historical novel — the criticism of Scott’s Napoleon unfolds on two levels. The first is that of the facts. Here, the French are perhaps more prickly and irritable than other audiences, because the protagonist is one of their own. There is a feeling, even if the expression is not used, of cultural appropriation. We tend to speak of cultural appropriation when a member of a majority uses the symbols or traditions of an oppressed minority. In this case the appropriator would be an Englishman and the appropriated, a Frenchman.

For example, Tulard points out that Napoleon never carried a saber at Waterloo, although he is lenient because “it’s a Gladiator thing, and Ridley Scott is forgiven”. Another historian who specializes in the era and the historical figure, Patrick Gueniffey, has called out more errors in the weekly news magazine Le Point. One is the previously mentioned presence of the future dictator at the beheading of Queen Marie Antoinette, when at the time Bonaparte was at the siege of Toulon, just shy of 500 miles from Paris. The bombing of the Pyramids is another one of the film’s invented scenes.

There is another level to this criticism, that of the image of Napoleon that Ridley Scott transmits. It’s not that France overlooks the ruler’s sins, such as the dictatorship, his reestablishment of slavery or his endless wars. But it rankles that the protagonist appears as “the caricature of an ambitious, Corsican ogre, a lout who sulks and who at the same time is unkind to his wife,” says Gueniffey. “Ridley Scott,” he adds, “does not realize that this is a logical absurdity: how did a character so dumb, so mediocre and ridiculous come to write such a fate?”

The historian and author of the monumental Bonaparte thinks that Scott “takes up the old caricature that was made of Napoleon just after his fall, and that came from the Restoration or from the English enemy around the time of the Congress of Vienna”. “Visibly, he does not love Napoleon”, Gueniffey laments. And here emerges an idea that runs through the reception of the movie in France: “It’s an anti-Napoleon film. Certainly, he does not deserve accolades, but it’s made without nuance or intelligence”. It is a film, he concludes, that is “very anti-French”.

Anti-French? “The ending is”, says Tulard as he leaves the theater. “The tallying of the dead soldiers, which appears without warning, shows that there is a desire to be hostile towards Napoleon”. Another participant in the colloquium, Geoffroy Caillet, editor in chief of Le Figaro Histoire, adds: “Ridley Scott tends to make people believe that the Empire can be reduced to a story of death, but the Empire is something else: the foundation of modern France after the chaos of the Revolution and also the recovery of part of the monarchical heritage, and this entire dimension, unfortunately, disappears”.

The reference to the three million dead, which concludes two hours of battles and love affairs, disgusts him. “We must remember that Napoleon did not commit genocide. We are talking about the dead of the battlefield,” says Caillet. He sums up his thoughts: “It is not an anti-French film, but it does carry a very Anglo-Saxon worldview”. The uncomfortable and polemical ending conjures other British visions of the emperor, such as that of Paul Johnson, author of a short biography that concludes: “No dictator of the tragic 20th century —from Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong to pygmy tyrants like Kim II Sung, Castro, Perón, Mengistu, Saddam Hussein, Ceaucescu and Gadaffi— was free from the echoes of the Napoleonic prototype”.

During the screening at L’Arlequin, no one left the room, no one booed. There was no applause either. One spectator sighed when he saw the three million figure. Another commented, “It’s not that it’s an anti-French film, it’s that simply empty.” Critics have not been enthusiastic. In some cases, they’ve been outright hostile, across ideologies. Left-wing daily Liberatión wrote: “Without really adopting a particular point of or approach, Napoleon is a quietly indecent film, very sure of its inanity.” You don’t mess with Napoleon. Or you mess with him with care. At the end of the colloquium in L’Arlequin, various people shouted: “Long live the Emperor!”


Culture

Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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